MIEM HSE Students Have Become Overall Winners of KubanCTF-2018
Students of Computer Security at MIEM HSE have become the overall winners in the National conference competition in practical information security KubanCTF-2018. The competition took place on May 4 and 5 in Krasnodar, and attracted 48 teams from Russian universities.
What CTF Means
CTF (Capture the Flag) competitions are globally popular events for teams in information security. The goal of the team is to capture the competitor’s symbolic ‘flag’. Usually, a secret line plays the role of the ‘flag’. You have to protect your ‘flag’ and capture the rival’s one.
All CTF contests are held in one of the two formats: ‘task-based’ and ‘attack-defence’. In the ‘task-based’ format, the aim is mostly to attack, and ‘attack-defence’ means that you have to protect yourself as well as attacking your opponent.
About Competitions and Task Types
The MIEM HSE team, Lunary, included four students of the Department of Computer Security: Andrey Skuratov (3rd year of studies), Sergey Migalin (3rd year), Dmitry Zalmanov (2nd year), and Sergey Blizniuk (2nd year).
The participants competed in a task-based CTF and had to solve over 20 problems at various levels of complexity in the following areas: cryptography, web, reverse engineering, OSINT (intelligence), and forensics (investigation of computer incidents).
Members of the winning team spoke about some of the problems they had to solve.
Sergey Blizniuk: ‘The cryptography part may include hacking tasks, from the simplest transposition ciphers to analysis of implementation codes for modern encryption algorithms, and exploits in them. The ‘web’ part is about hacking websites, web services etc’.
Andrey Skuratov: ‘Reverse engineering is analyzing the program work through black box analysis, and restoring its source code.
OSINT is Open-Source Intelligence, when you have to find information on something (someone) through the use of the internet. For example: at a crime scene, a letter was found, which was delivered to the victim’s email, and you have to determine the sender’s location. Then, you look for the information based on the input data (the email address, in this case). There are many possible ways to find the solution: you can find this email address mentioned in a web service, find the phone number, a Telegram ID, write to its owner, look at their profile pictures, find their pages on social media, use a search by image, and so on. In this case, the answer may be a recent Instagram post’s geolocation, for example.
In Forensics, you analyze virtual machine images, disk images, short term memory images, logs etc. This category may also include working with mobile devices (memory images etc)’.
The Most Difficult Task (According to the Team)
Dmitry Zalmanov: ‘The task in cryptography seemed the most difficult to us. It was designed by Kaspersky Labs specially for this contest. The task consisted of three consecutive stages, with each successive stage being harder than the previous one. To pass each of the stages successfully, we had to use our knowledge of practically applicable attacks on cryptographic algorithms. Nobody solved this task during the competition, but we finished solving it after the event since we just didn’t have enough time during the CTF event. But we really enjoyed it!’
First-year student of the Bachelor’s programme in Computer Security at MIEM HSE, Andrey Schebetov, has joined the team that will represent the Russian Federation at the EU Contest for Young Scientists (EUCYS).